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PREVIEW: 2012 Animated Features

Let’s ring in the new year with a look ahead at the animated features of 2012. The animated feature glass was half-full last year. Whereas in 2010, five of the top ten highest-grossing features in the US were animated, last year only one animated film ranked in the US top 10–Cars 2. Around the world, however, animation fared better in 2011, earning 3 of the top 10 spots at the global box office (and if you count The Smurfs, four of the top ten).

Our 2011 list focuses primarily on films set for release in the United States, but we’ve also rounded it out with a few foreign films. Of course, we’ll be covering dozens of other foreign and indie feature productions throughout the year, but even with the films below, 2012 is already looking like a decent year. If you know of other must-see animated films this year, please let us know in the comments.


The Secret World of Arriety
The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

Release Date: 2/17
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Distributor: Walt Disney
Technique: hand-drawn
Voice Cast: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett
Film Website

Plenty more films after the jump

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Release Date: 3/2
Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito
Film Website

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.

Release Date: 3/30
Directors: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Production Company: Aardman Animation
Label: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia
Technique: clay stop-mo
Voice Cast: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Film Website

Le Magasin des Suicides (The Suicide Shop)
Based on a bestselling book by Jean Teulé, it’s a black comedy about a family that runs a suicide supply shop in a dreary town. The family’s business is threatened when a new baby arrives who makes everyone around him happy.

Release Date: 5/16 (France/Belgium), 6/14 (Netherlands)
Directors: Patrice LeConte
Production Company: Diabolo Films (France), La Petite Reine, Entre Chien et Loup (Belgique) and Caramel Films (Canada)
Distributor: ARP Sélection
Technique: hand-drawn, cut-out

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo join a traveling circus in an effort to get back home to New York.

Release Date: 6/8
Director: Eric Darnell
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: Paramount
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Sascha Baron Cohen
Film Website

Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Release Date: 6/22
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Production Company: Pixar
Studio: Pixar
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Film Website

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.

Release Date: 7/13
Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Production Company:
Studio: Blue Sky
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
Film Website

The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Okami kodomo no ame to yuki (The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)
From the director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, the story of a college student named Hana who marries a “wolf man” and gives birth to two wolf children. When the wolf man dies, Hana and the children move from the city to a quiet rural town.

Release Date: July (Japan)
Directors: Mamoru Hosoda
Production Company: Studio Chizu, Madhouse
Distributor: TOHO
Technique: Hand-drawn
Film Website

A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Release Date: 8/17
Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Production Company: Laika
Distributor: Focus Features
Technique: Stop-Motion
Voice Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Film Website

Hotel Transylvania
Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter.

Release Date: 9/21
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Production Company: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg
Film Website

Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

Release Date: 10/5
Director: Tim Burton
Production Company: Walt Disney
Distributor: Disney
Technique: stop-motion
Voice Cast: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short
Film Website

Wreck-It Ralph
The bad-guy character in a classic game who longs to be a hero brings trouble to his entire arcade after sneaking into a new first-person shooter game and unleashing a deadly enemy.

Release Date: 11/2
Director: Rich Moore
Production Company: Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch

Rise of the Guardians
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman band together to form a united front against the Bogeyman.

Release Date: 11/21
Director: Peter Ramsey, William Joyce
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: Paramount
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher
Film Website

These six films have no release date set yet, but will be ready for release in 2012

Dorothy of Oz
Back in Kansas, Dorothy Gale decides to return to Oz in order to help her friends.

Director: Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre
Production Company: Summertime Entertainment
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Lea Michele, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Dancy
Film Website

Escape from Planet Earth
Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.

Director: Callan Brunker
Production Company: Blue Yonder Films
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Fraser
Film Website

Norm of the North
Displaced from their Arctic home, a polar bear named Norm and his three lemming friends wind up in New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of a corporation he soon learns is tied to the fate of his homeland.

Director: Anthony Bell
Production Company: RichCrest Animation
Distributor: Lionsgate
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ken Jeong, Rob Schneider, Zachary Gordon
Film Press Release

Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie
Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie is a film based on Cheech and Chong’s classic Grammy award winning albums.

Director: Branden Chambers, Eric D. Chambers
Technique: Flash
Voice Cast: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong
Official Facebook Page


“The tale of a frog with an identity crisis..”

Director: Chuck Powers
Technique: CGI
Voice Cast: Sean Astin, Tim Curry
Production company: KRU Studios (Malaysia)
Official Facebook page

A Liar's Autobiography

A Liar’s Autobiography
Based on the memoirs of deceased Monty Python member Graham Chapman. Fifteen different UK animation companies will be contributing animated segments to the film. The film will receive a theatrical release in the UK in Spring 2012, and shown on the EPIX HD channel in the US.

Director: Bill Jones, Ben Timlett, Jeff Simpson
Production Company: Bill and Ben Productions
Voice Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
Film Website